The Hidden

Interlude: A Walk in the Dark

Rekshee's Path

Rekshee paced back and forth in the craggy chamber, his teeth chattering from the cold. These paths through the veil were incredibly uncomfortable, but the Master was in his head forcing him to stay and wait. Unfortunately if the Commander arrived too much later then Rekshee would be another victim of frosty climate of the dank caverns. He paced some more to keep the joints in his legs from stiffening again.

He almost tried to turn to leave again, sure that the Commander would not be back this night, but as soon as he did he remembered the coma inducing pain that would stab at his mind. It was like someone had blown arctic wind into his ears at such a high pressure that it liquefied and froze his brain at the same instant. He stopped on his toes and stayed put thinking of warmer thoughts and pacing again, always turning away from the path behind him.

He was caught mid stride by the opposite sensation washing over his entire body. The contrast of intense heat blasting against his numb skin made invisible razors tear over his entire body in tiny slashes, stinging and burning. The tunnel lit up brilliantly and Rekshee had to cover his eyes as the Commander hunched on its knees before the ragged and withered servant. The Commander slumped for a moment, its arms wrapped around something as though it were absolutely precious, the armor smelled sharply of scorched air.

The Commander’s hollow helm looked up at the wretched man and Rekshee could feel the rage radiate from the thing before him. A hand jerked up and grabbed Rekshee’s thigh, searing hot armored fingers melted into his flesh and charred the muscle nearly to the bone. Rekshee wished to scream but knew it would only feed the Commander’s lust for pain and suffering so he clenched his teeth so hard that he felt them grind and one of them crack as a chip of the now broken molar cut his tongue. He nearly squeaked but it came out a snort as the Commander used Rekshee’s thigh to hoist his weight up. Rekshee could feel the bone begin to bow under the weight and then a dull, wet snap resounded as the thick thigh-bone splintered under the weight. Rekshee fell to the cold ground shuddering as the Commander stood.

Blood seeped out of the wound and the presence of the Master in his mind commanded he stand. It was slow and shaking despite his desire to please his host. He managed to get upright, the pieces of bone grinding agonizingly together, and he had to hobble and hop, putting all of his weight on his good leg. The Commander just handed the precious object to Rekshee to carry and he suddenly felt empowered, strengthened by it and the pain diminished. The urn was as black as the deepest darkest well within the shadow lands. The white bones, finger-bones, stretched from the base to the top, secured the lid. Rekshee had to force himself to not give in to what it whispered into his mind, if he did he would surely perish.

He lurched forward ahead of the Commander. He felt his steps tread on the cold ground and it felt wonderful. He took the winding path up through the dark reaches passing the others who stared at him in envy. The Commander’s very presence quelled that very envy in a matter of seconds. Rekshee was eager to deliver the miraculous thing to the High Priestess… She would appreciate him, she would reward him… He could be free! His thoughts swam with sinister delights as he found his way to the winding steps of the old temple and stopped, it was a majestic thing, a place of rapture and long lost to the world above.

Rekshee felt the Commander at his back and the heat of the damned armor hit him again, he cringed and began the long climb, passing robed figures, gaunt and pale and hollow. All eyes were on Rekshee as he climbed, the Commander at his back. Time slowed, the wounds in his leg painless and knitted, the thing in his arms cool and invigorating to his touch. He reached the top after an eternity and he stared into the grand ritual chamber. He lurched forward again and saw her, the High Priestess approached in her black and gray gown. Her face deathly pale, ivory with streaks of blue from the atrophied veins beneath. Her hands stretched from within the robes, skeletal and hard. She reached for the urn and took it gently in both hands, pulling it away from Rekshee.

Rekshee felt his legs weaken again, his injured leg bruised and let off a smell of rot. He looked down and its skin blackened. He staggered after the High Priestess and his mind faintly picked up the cruel laughter of the Commander, a sound of metal grating on metal, hollow and wicked. He followed the High Priestess, her gown flowing behind mixing with her long hair, the symbol of an eye on the back of her cloak. She strode up more stairs and atop a pedestal and set the urn down in its place and turned to eye Rekshee as he climbed the stairs jerkily and desperately after. Rekshee caught her black eyes: sunken and empty sockets, a glint of back flame hidden within abyssal reaches of her skull. She watched Rekshee climb and smiled in approval of his strength.

Rekshee reached the pedestal’s top and knelt before her. She strode to him and bent, stretching her hand out and lifting his chin, smearing the sticky saliva and blood mixture that trailed down from his mouth. His leg burned and tightened and he could feel the rot creeping down the limb, stiffening his knee. She mouthed and he heard her voice raspy in his ears and melodic in his head, creating a frightening chorus in tandem: “Thank you Rekshee, you have done well. You have proven a strength that is beyond our expectations and I suspect you await your reward?”

Rekshee nodded in answer, his eyes darting back and forth to hers, barely making contact with the flicker within for more than a split-second. She let go of his face and he drooped his head again waiting for her words. Rekshee glanced at the Commander once more and saw that it stood, arms crossed, hollow of the helm staring up at them as though in annoyance. The High Priestess approached the urn once more and beckoned Rekshee join her. Rekshee forced himself to not leap to her side, it wasn’t hard for his knee was now stiff and dead. He hobbled over and she stood before the urn and in a rough whisper said, “May this servant be healed… May he serve unchained.”

She turned and reached her skeletal hands to Rekshee once more and he felt her cold fingers caress his face once more. He was finally getting his reward for his hard life, he would be favored. He would be free of the slavery cast upon him when he was taken from his home!

He had time to gape his mouth under the pressure, his mind reeling in pain, his breath a sharp inhale as his skull crackled like dry wood in a fire and her hands pressed into his head. Every part of his mind registered that something was horribly wrong all at once… Rekshee glanced out at the chamber for some form of help and only saw that everyone’s attention, including the Commander’s was lost in the reports of one of the Spirit Vampire scouts that had been sent to that little village. The last seconds were long and agonizing and no one even noticed except for the emotion-less High Priestess, Rekshee… and something else that he could not see, but he could feel. His last gasp was a rickety one and his last thought could only coalesce into a single pained word ‘WHY?’ as his skull gave and her hands splashed his gore at her feat. The last image burned into his eyes was the High Priestess’ smile… and the amorphous figure looming hungrily beside the urn.

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